Getting injured on the job can be a very devastating and inconvenient situation. The shock, pain, and suffering, constant battles with your employer over who’s a fault it was, and the countless doctor visits and bills can feel overwhelming. If you have been injured on the job, don’t let it stress you. Get in touch with an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer today by calling 770-796-0919.
Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws have their own detailed specifics, and the team at Workers Compensation Lawyers Atlanta is well versed in the intricate details of the law. Whether you were recently injured on the job, your case has become complicated, or you have been denied your claim for one reason or another, an Atlanta workers’ comp lawyer can help you navigate the situation.
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What is Workers’ Compensation?
The workers’ compensation law in Georgia exists to help injured employees handle their damages, including medical costs, following an injury suffered while at work. The law provides different kinds of benefits on a case-to-case basis, and the actual process of filing for benefits can be quite confusing. It’s therefore important that every employee is aware of their rights when it comes to injuries in the workplace.
Under workers’ compensation law, you are entitled to the following if you get hurt while on your job:
- Medical treatment, including medications and hospital stays, which are paid for by your employer’s insurance company
- The necessary travel expenses
- Temporary total disability benefits if your treatment entails going out of work for a statutory amount of time
- Physical therapy
- Vocational rehabilitation may also be available
What Should I Do if I’m Hurt on the Job?
Report the injury to your employer
Be sure to report the incident to your supervisor or employer as soon as you can, ideally in writing. Informing a co-worker just won’t suffice. Keep in mind that if you wait for more than one month to report the injury, you risk losing the opportunity to receive full benefits.
Obtain emergency medical care and follow your doctor’s instructions
Make an appointment with one of your employer’s approved doctors as soon as possible after the accident. If you need to go to the doctor in the evening hours or on the weekend, go to the nearest hospital first. Your employer will pay for your emergency treatment either way. Be sure to also follow the instructions given by the medical professional; attend all the appointments, take the prescribed medications, and follow all of the work restrictions you’re given.
Take photographs of your injuries and any property damage
Depending on the kind of accident, it’s wise to take photos or videos of the scene and the resulting injuries, if you are able to. These will serve as great pieces of evidence to support your case and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Your employer might not agree that you got hurt in your work, and you won’t find out until later. You will want to have good notes to remind you of what happened.
Keep a written journal of your injuries and symptoms
It’s also recommended that you make detailed notes of the accident and ensure that you keep them safe. It’s also wise to make notes of these soon after the accident, ideally including the names of any witnesses and the dates. These will help you keep your side of the story true and coherent.
Update your Employer
In case your doctor gives you work restrictions or excuses you from work, make sure you have this in writing and give a copy to your employer. If your doctor excuses you from work indefinitely, you will want to find out how frequently your employer needs you to call in. Ensure that you comply with their requirements. In case you’re unable to work, ensure that the insurer is aware too.
Consult an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you believe that you have a workers’ compensation claim, be sure to contact an Atlanta workers’ comp lawyer who has experience handling similar claims as soon as possible. When you come to us, the initial consultation is usually done free of charge, and we can help you establish whether you have a case, and guide you on the right steps to follow.
What are the Most Common Workplace Accident Injuries?
Some workplace injuries tend to be more common than others. Workplaces that require a lot of physical labor from their employees also tend to see more injuries than others. This is because some of the tasks might involve lifting heavy objects, and this subjects their bodies to strain quite frequently. Some of the most common workplace injuries include:
- Back injuries – Disc issues and muscle strains are quite common and may be accompanied by a spinal cord injury
- Knee injuries – You might injure or tear your ACL or the meniscus, both of which will often require surgery and physical therapy
- Hip injuries – These come in the form of muscle strains and a broken hip
- Neck injuries – These could be anything from a broken neck to a torn tendon
- Carpal tunnel – This is one of the most common forms of repetitive stress injuries
- Brain injuries – Employees who suffer a traumatic brain injury from work are eligible for compensation
- Occupational illnesses – These include respiratory problems, cancers from asbestos, etc.
There are some specific injuries that might cause a person to miss work for many months or years. Some might only be mild and will see you go back to work in no time. Call a workers’ comp attorney in Atlanta today.
Why Should I Hire an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
In Georgia, the workers’ compensation system is designed to help injured employees get back on their feet following an accident in their workplace. The system was set up to help relieve some of the financial stresses that the injuries could cause. Nonetheless, just because you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, it doesn’t mean that getting money will be easy.
Employers and insurance companies often take advantage of the system to benefit themselves, not the injured workers. When filing a claim, you are required to follow rigid procedures and meet some rather strict deadlines. Your employer and their insurer might even conspire to place barriers between you and the compensation amount you deserve. Plus, some simple mistakes could cost you valuable compensation.
This all makes a case for why you need to work with an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer right from the start. While some claims are rather straightforward, others are just the opposite. The following are some of the things that could go wrong during a claim:
- Your employer might outright decide to deny you coverage
- You might be forced to go back to work before you’re ready
- There could be a dispute over what actually caused your injuries
- There might be a dispute over whether or not you were within your job duties at the time of the accident
If this is the case for you and the claim gets more complex, it is in your best interest to work with a professional Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer who can help maximize your settlement.
At Workers Compensation Lawyers Atlanta, one of our experienced workers’ comp attorneys will make sure that all the necessary forms and paperwork are filled in in a timely manner. We will also help you collect the necessary evidence, interview witnesses, appeal a denied decision, and ensure you get the maximum compensation amount.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
The first thing you need to know here is that there is a unique concept in these kinds of cases called contingency. This means that you are not required to pay anything to your lawyer unless you win your case, where the funds to pay for the legal services are taken from the settlement proceeds.
As such, we won’t take any money from you until we are victorious in the court, which would mean that we’ll take a small cut from the settlement amount we win on your behalf. This payment arrangement works for most clients, as you can be sure that the lawyer has the same incentive as you do.
Keep in mind that we will also meet you at your preferred location to discuss your case and your option going forward. An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer offers this initial consultation free of charge, and you are not obligated to work with us after the consultation.
During this meeting, we will try to assess the strength of your case. If we do establish that we can win the case for you, we’ll work on setting up a contract that you can sign at your discretion.
It’s worth noting that the state of Georgia sets the maximum amount an attorney can charge from a workers’ compensation case at 25% of the settlement amount or income benefits. The total amount an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer is allowed to continue to draw their fee is limited to 400 weeks.
What Should I Do if My Workers Compensation Claim is Denied?
If your workers’ compensation claim was denied, you have the right to seek a clear reason for this denial and file an appeal. Your claim is denied doesn’t mean that you are no longer entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
If your claim is denied, you can dispute the claim and file a request to have an official hearing before the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. This would mean that an Administrative Law Judge will hear your claim and make a decision based on your injuries on whether you should receive income benefits or workers’ comp in Atlanta. An experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can help to present this information.
The judge who handles these hearings will listen to both sides of the case: you and your employer. Because of this, it’s important to have factual information and supporting evidence to back up your claim, to ideally prove the severity and extent of the injuries you sustained. That’s why it’s important to rely on the legal expertise of an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer.
What Responsibility Does the Employee Have in Filing a Workers Comp Claim?
In Georgia, workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory for most businesses with three or more employees, including part-time employees. The state’s workers’ compensation law provides every person working in the state with coverage for any work-related injuries, even if the injury occurs on the first day of the job.
To qualify for these benefits, the employee has to adhere to these responsibilities:
- Adhere to all the written rules of safety and other reasonable procedures and policies put in place by the employer
- Report any accident or injuries immediately, and no later than 30 days after the incident, to the employer, a representative of the employer, immediate supervisor, or the foreman
- Take reasonable medical treatment and rehabilitation as requested by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation
- Demonstrate that the accident was not a result of the employee’s willful misconduct
- Let the employer’s insurance company know when you move to a new location, and when you are able to return to part-time or full-time work. You are also expected to report the number of your weekly earnings as you may be entitled to certain income benefits even before you return to work
- Attempt a job approved by your treating physician (authorized), even when the pay is lower than the job you initially had before the injury
- Notify your employer or insurance carrier upon change of address or remarriage in cases involving a deceased worker
- File your claim within a year following the death of a loved one in a workplace-related accident, with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Call an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer.
- Submit to a drug test following a workplace injury if asked to and provide justifiable evidence in case of refusal
- Give your request for reimbursement for expenses like mileage and others related to medical care to your employer or their insurer within a year of the occurrence of the injury
- Be honest or risk being guilty of a misdemeanor for making misleading or false statements when claiming benefits
What Responsibility Does the Employer Have in the Workers’ Compensation Process?
Your employer is deemed responsible for all your medical costs so long as they occurred because of an injury suffered in the workplace. This includes any out-of-pocket payments and other expenses that you will likely have to face in the future. You should be compensated for the lost wages from the time you spend away from work. However, when filing a claim, a whole list of issues could occur between you and your employer.
Besides providing you with workers compensation coverage, your employer is required to perform the following duties:
- Give out a notice of compliance with workers compensation laws in a conspicuous location or space at every job site
- Provide employees with immediate emergency medical treatment for on-job injuries
- Provide further medical attention when the injured worker is unable to choose a doctor or when the employee advises the employer in writing not to do so
- Fill in and submit a report of the injury to the nearest workers’ compensation board’s office. They should also submit a copy to their insurer
- Comply with any requests made for further information about injured workers by the insurance company or the worker’s compensation board. These could be statements of the employee’s wages before and after the accident, or any other report that can help determine the work status of the employee following the injury
Making a written report of each and every accident that results in personal injury causes loss of time from duties beyond the working shift or day or those that require medical treatment besides first aid
While workers’ compensation laws offer some remedies to the injured employees, they are also meant to protect the employers. However, some employers tend to frown upon employees who seek workers’ compensation claims, with some going as far as discriminating against these employees.
To protect employees from such employers, employers are prohibited from discriminating against, punishing, harassing, or unjustly discharging or terminating employees who exercise their rights under the workers’ compensation laws. Employees can bring civil actions against such employers for the tort of retaliatory discharge. This is why it is important to hire an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer who knows and understands the local laws.
Can I be Fired for Claiming a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Yes, some employers could fire you for making a workers’ compensation claim. Keep in mind that Georgia is an employment-at-will state, which means that unless you are a victim of discrimination or have an employment contract, you can be fired for any reason. Many years ago, the Georgia legislature rejected a bill that prevented such firing for making a claim.
However, your termination could be significant. If you’re on regular duty work without any restrictions and you end up being fired, you will not be entitled to further total or temporary benefits unless a doctor later says that you had some restrictions or that you wouldn’t be able to work. On the other hand, if you had some restrictions when you got fired, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Is there a Time Limit to File a Workers’ Comp Claim in Georgia?
Yes. Georgia has placed a time limit to file a workers’ comp claim. This is usually one year from the date of the accident. If you went on to receive medical treatment, the deadline is one year from the time you got medical treatment paid for by the insurance carrier of your employer, and it’s two years from the date you got a check for workers’ compensation.
You are allowed 30 days to report your accident or injury to your employer. But this definition can be quite broad and sometimes, a verbal conversation will be enough to qualify for a report. Make sure to call an experienced Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to help you to file your claim in a timely manner.
Can I Sue My Employer?
If you believe that you have a valid claim and your employer is still insistent on denying it, you could file a claim, ideally with the help of an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer. Your employer could be trying to deny your claim as they assume you won’t challenge it and end up saving money. If this happens, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit.
Can an Independent Contractor File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
In Georgia, Independent contractors usually don’t have coverage for workers’ compensation. This makes it quite easy for some employers to avoid paying income benefits by classifying their employees as independent contractors. If you’re an independent contractor, there are some situations where you can be eligible for these benefits. These include:
- Getting a structured work schedule from third parties
- Personally controlling your working conditions
- Another company, individual, or entity determines the means by which the victim completes the job
At Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Atlanta, our Atlanta workers’ comp lawyers will work with you every step of the way and can help you determine whether your employer misclassified you. If this is the case, we can go ahead and start the process of formally filing a claim.
What is My Atlanta Workers’ Comp Claim Worth?
Workers’ comp law allows for two benefits after a workplace accident – payment of medical expenses and payment for two-thirds of your weekly wage while away from work. If you’re incapable of going back to work or to get back to work with some permanent limitation, the law may allow for a lump sum payment on either medical impairment or the vocational limitation incurred.
If your injuries were a result of the negligence of a third party and not the employer, you may sue the third party and receive compensation that isn’t usually available under workers’ compensation law.
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation offers an Employee handbook that details the benefits that a worker is entitled to. Some of these workers’ comp benefits include:
- Medical costs incurred (from authorized physicians)
- Percentage of your lost wages
- Any rehab costs
- Travel expenses related to treating your injuries
- Permanent Partial Disability, which is money awarded when an authorized treating physician gives a disability rating in compliance with guidelines provided by the American Medical Association
- Income loss replacement benefits, which are typically two-thirds of your average weekly wage (capped at $575 a week)
Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
Get in touch with the team of lawyers at Workers Compensation Lawyers Atlanta to schedule a free consultation. We will evaluate the details of your situation and help you circumnavigate the whole claims process. Our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer will help you discover other potential avenues of pursuing compensation based on your circumstances and work to get you the maximum compensation amount possible.